Equipo Realidad

Joan Cardells: Born 1948 in Valencia, Spain, where he lives and works.
Jorge Ballester: Born1941 in Valencia, where he died in 2014.

Photographic portrait of Joan Cardells and Jorge Ballester

Joan Cardells and Jorge Ballester
Courtesy IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015

Equipo Realidad (Group Reality) was formed by Joan Cardells and Jorge Ballester in Valencia in 1966. In alignment with a return to figuration that was rising in Spain, as exemplified by artist group Equipo Crónica and Estampa Popular, Cardells and Ballester founded Equipo Realidad, with the mandate to serve society through art. The two Valencian artists, born in 1941 and 1948 respectively, met at the San Carlos Fine Arts School in 1964, where they both participated in the activities of the Free Students’ Union, increasingly resistant to Francisco Franco’s government. In the first few years of its operation, Equipo Realidad worked extensively with the Students’ Union and for alternative bookshops in Valencia producing decorative panels in acrylic paint. In the late 1960s the group began to address individual themes articulated in four series including Hogar, dulce hogar (Home sweet home), and Cuadros de Historia (War exploits or pictures from History).

From the outset Equipo Realidad confronted the themes of war, politics, consumerism, femininity and the role of Art with a capital ‘A’. The Divine Proportion 1967, exhibited during the group’s first trip to Italy in 1967, revisits Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Vitruvian Man. By substituting the anatomical study with the depiction of a North American soldier, Equipo Realidad activates a twofold critique. Firstly, an association is established between the Vietnam War and a European cultural icon, warning against the threat of US cultural and economic imperialism – heightened in Spain by the neoliberal policies implemented by Francisco Franco’s administration. Secondly, the manipulation of the same icon reflects Equipo Realidad’s discontent with the official culture promoted by the regime, still anchored to past achievements. Through the approachable aesthetic of the mass media, Equipo Realidad strove to encourage the viewer to participate in a re-evaluation of Spanish culture, caught between imperialism and academicism.

Sofia Gotti
September 2015

See also

Joan Cardells (Equipo Realidad)

Interview with the artist Joan Cardells (Equipo Realidad), included in the World Goes Pop exhibition at Tate Modern.